the following information tries to give new Paneristi a general overview about Panerai watches, their evolution, typical naming/expression, and the use of our database.
We start with general information that fits to all Panerai watches and goes deeper in the specific collections with types of cases and dials.
Will find at the end (chapter 8 & 9) recommendations for the use of the “THE Panerai Reference Database” & typical naming & abbreviations.
At Panerai exist letters for production years and fiscal years.
Production year "A" starts with 1998, fiscal year "A" starts with 1999 (called A series).
Only the production year is relevant at the fan-base because it is displayed on each watch.
Following you can see all series (production years):
A 1998, B 1999, C 2000, D 2001, E 2002, F 2003, G 2004, H 2005, I 2006, J 2007, K 2008, L 2009, M, 2010, N 2011, O 2012, P 2013, Q 2014, R 2015, S 2016, T 2017, U 2018, V 2019, W 2020, X 2021, Y 2022, Z 2023, ? 2024 good question 😉
“PreA” series is used as expression during acquisition and short after acquisition of Panerai by Richmont before the series wording was introduced (1997).
Millesimation shows you the production limitation for a specific year (e.g. 1000). Because of that, all Panerai watches have a kind of limitation. On the watch bottom site, you will find the information in the form: “Production year” “specific watch number out of” / “Millesimation” e.g. S0511/1000 (means in year 2016 the 511th produced watch out of 1000).
For some reason, Panerai produced few specific references outside the Millesimation. That is called “Out Of Range (OOR)”. In those cases, you will find the information OOR0025/0100 on the bottom side of the watch. Here you have no information about the production year. For example PAM00002 with 100 pieces & PAM00217 with 11 pieces.
3. Serial Numbers
Panerai watches has four serial numbers.
- Millesimation: Most used number in Panerai fan-base (description see at Millesimation)
- Case number: Starts with two letters, followed by digit numbers. Most used letters are BB, additional used letters are DB, DT, PB, PL, PN, PT, SM, SW.A clear usage system about the letters is not known, maybe a naming for the used case materials, like SW for wood, PN is used for Ceramica or Carbotech models, DT is used mostly for Composite. The rendered pictures on Panerai website shows mostly a BB, nevertheless real produced watches of same reference have often other letters. It can be also a production location code, because most cases have a BB, exotic materials have unusual combination.
- Case-Typ-Number: Case-Typ-Number beginning with “OP”, followed by a four-digit number. First numbers started with 6500, after ~20 years new cases have today a number around 7400 (e.g. OP 7387).
- Movement number: Movement number is a simple digit number.
The reference is a specific Panerai watch model, that is produced one or many years. The full naming begins with PAM* followed by 5-digit number (e.g. PAM00127). Until 2015 only the last three numbers were used. Because of that most Paneristi do not write the first two digits (e.g. PAM127, or only the digit 127 instead of PAM00127).
Additionally, some references have own naming in the fan-base (e.g. PAM00127 is called Fiddy).
*PAM means “Panerai Model”, because of the letters PAM as part of the reference, most Paneristi names the Panerai watch simply “Pam”.
You can classify the references in four groups how they were limited and/or sold:
Standard reference: Produced in volumes about 500-4000 pieces p.a.
Limited edition: Produced in smaller volumes about 500-750 pieces for a limited time (e.g. 1-3 years)
Special edition: Produced fixed volumes (that was defined in advanced), ~25-~2000 pieces
Boutique edition: Produced fixed volumes (that was defined in advanced), to sell at only one or few specific boutiques, volumes very low from ~20-~150 pieces (many Paneristi references belongs to that category)
Changes during production of a reference are called "Evolution" and they are described in the Panerai ABC handbook (for the official Panerai dealers). Nevertheless, not all changes are named by Panerai (e.g. changes at the design of the dial numbers like “long arrow” or “short arrow” at PAM00005).
Typical changes are new engravings on the case, changes of parts like crown protector, changing dials from painted to sandwich or vice versa or changes at movement. Also changes at strap or crystal are usual.
To know which evolution a specific reference has, you have to know the specific production year (called series). A typical question from a Paneristi is “from which series is the PAM?”
6. Dial types & specialties
The variations of dials you can split in two group. First group is with which technic the numbers and lines applied to the dial, second, how the design of the dial is.
6.1. Technical methods
At the first group we differentiate between the “Sandwich dial”, “Painted dial”, “Sausage dial”, “Printed dial”, and “Connected pins & dots”.
Panerai invented luminous dials existing out of several layers. Because of that the dial has a three-dimensional effect. That dial type is strongly connected to Panerai watches.
Luminous material was used to paint the numbers and lines on the dial (classical process in the watch industry). Is has a slight three-dimensional effect.
The luminous material is applied thick on the dial. The applied numbers look like little sausages. Because of that the dial has a three-dimensional effect.
Printed numbers and lines without luminous effect on the dial (sometimes Panerai add luminous painted dots on the edge of the dial to get minimal luminosity).
Connected pins & dots
That dial has no specific name in the Panerai fan-base. All pins & dots are connected on the dial. Because of that the dial has a three-dimensional effect. It is used mostly at the Submersible collection in combination with the S.L.C. dial styles.
6.2. Design layout
The second group we differentiate between the layout, look & feel of the dial.
That dial has no specific name in the Panerai fan-base, nevertheless it is used at most. The dial has maximal the numbers 3, 6, 9, 12 and in between lines (instead the numbers 2,4,5,7,8,10 & 11). In some cases, the 3 and/or 9 is not presented because the space is used for additional functions like date or small second. That clean dial type is strongly connected to Panerai watches.
Standard dial with dots
That dial has no specific name in the Panerai fan-base. The dial has maximal the numbers 3, 6, 9, 12 and in between dots (instead the numbers 2,4,5,7,8,10 & 11). In some cases, the 3 and/or 9 is not presented because the space is used for additional functions like date or small second.
Combination of Roman (on top) and Arabic (bottom) letters. First time produced and delivered from Rolex exclusively to Panerai in 1936. First watch produced in Richmond time was the PAM00249. Until now Panerai produces it only as “Painted dial” and mostly in Radiomir cases, to stay close to the original vintage watches. Last year’s California dials was used also at Radiomir 1940 and Luminor cases (PAM00718, PAM00779). That dial type is strongly connected to Panerai watches, nevertheless it came from Rolex and is used today also from other brands.
Minimalistic dial design without numbers, only lines and dots. Design goes back to Panerai prototype from ~1940s. Because of that history the S.L.C. dials were used in the first time only at Radiomir collection. Now it became more and more the standard dial for the Submersible collection. At most collections the S.L.C. dial is produced with “Sandwich dial” technic. In the Submersible collection it is used in combination with the “Connected pins & dots” dial technic.
S.L.C. dial without dots
That dial has no specific name in the Panerai fan-base. Reclined on the S.L.C. dial but replaced the dots with short lines. Mostly used at Submersible collection in combination with the “Connected pins & dots” dial technic.
That dial has no specific name in the Panerai fan-base, nevertheless, sometimes is used the naming “dirty dial”, what is misleading (“dirty dial” was used for the PAM00356 dial with a luminous material color in vintage “patina” look). The numbers 3,6,9, 12 are similar to the Standard dial, additionally the numbers 2,4,5,7,8,10,11 presented smaller. In some cases, the 3 and/or 9 is not presented because the space is used for additional functions like date or small second.
6.3. Used Luminous Materials
The naming on the dial under the number “6” depends on the used luminous material.
The naming "T SWISS T" is used in case of Tritium luminous material (replacement started in 2006/2007 with Super-Luminova). It is unclear if Panerai will use Tritium in the future because of the low radioactivity (only touchy if watch is open for maintenance & or the topic waste disposal). Last watch with Tritium was the PAM00285 in 2008.
"L SWISS L" is used for Luminova, it was replaced at most series with Super-Luminova starting from 2004/2005. Nevertheless, Luminova is still used for classic series (e.g. PAM01075).
"L SWISS MADE L" is used for Super-Luminova. New Panerai models uses mostly Super-Luminova.
Misleading is the understanding of which material is “better”. Tritium is low radioactive, it does not need light to “load up”. Because of that it was used mostly for professional watches like for deep diving.
Luminova and Super-Luminova need light to “load up”. Super-Luminova has a much higher lightness (also called luminance). It releases the saved energy much faster. Because of that it is also much faster “empty”. Super-Luminova glows between 2-5 hours in darkness. Luminova glows slighter but up to 24 hours. Misleading is also the meaning that Super-Luminova as advancement of Luminova is at all areas better. Super-Luminova glows stronger, but Luminova glows longer.
Generally, the naming and quality of used luminous materials is more a marketing tool at all watch brands (including Panerai), because that material was invented by only one company and is still produced from them in Japan and in Switzerland (another company produces in license the same product). All brands buying from them the finished product or mixes the bought luminous material with own colors (that has no positive impact on the glow characteristic).
Radiomir & Luminor was luminous materials used by Panerai. Richemont decided to use those names to classify his collections, although collections focus is on case design and not on the luminous materials. Because of that, this classification does not fit to Panerai watches produced before Richmont time (that time is called at fan-base “Pre-Vendome”).
Panerai case design has a cushion form that you will find at all Radiomir & Luminor collections (except Mare Nostrum collection). Cushion case design is strongly connected to Panerai, nevertheless it was not designed by Panerai.
Collection witch the most classical, vintage look of all cases. Design roots goes back to the pocket watches from Rolex around 1920s. Pocket watches were equipped by Panrai with wire lugs as strap connector. It was the first watch type that Panerai sold to Italian Navy (called in Italian “Marina Militare”).
Historically the first bigger evolution from Panerai to replace the wire lugs with massive classical watch lugs (introduced at Panerai as collection at 2012).
Collection with the iconic crown protector. That makes Panerai Luminor watches unique. Historically it is the evolution of the “Radiomir 1940” who got additionally to the massive lugs the iconic crown protector (historical Panerai model is the 6152/1). Panerai sold from 1993 that case to the public marked (introduced at Richmont Panerai as collection from the beginning). In the Panerai fan-base that case design is called also Bettarini case.
A new interpretation of the Luminor with the iconic crown protector, but with markings “R.E.G. T.M” on the crown protector and more curved areas like the Luminor case (introduced with the reference PAM00127 at Richmont Panerai as collection at 2002).
A new interpretation of the Luminor 1950 with the iconic crown protector but optimized to be more a dress watch. Reduced height to fit under a business shirt but respectively less water protection (30-50m, introduced at Panerai as collection at 2016).
It is a Luminor or Luminor 1950 case equipped with a diving bezel. Because of that the Submersible was named in past at Panerai as Luminor Submersible as part of the Luminor collection (introduced at Richmont Panerai as Luminor Submersible from the beginning, since 2020 merchandised as own collection).
Independent design line from Panerai (approx. 1940s). Has no cushion case design and during Richmont time only 6 references was sold to public marked.
7.1. Inside Luminor collections
Luminor cases (with crown protector)
All Luminor cases looks very similar, nevertheless there are two different main designs. The “Luminor” case (called also Bettarini case at the fan-base) and the “Luminor 1950” case.
Very often Panerai do not different between that two case models (at the website both sorted under the name “Luminor”. Often the Luminor 1950 reference name has no “1950” as part of the watch name (e.g. Luminor Marina - 42mm PAM02392 with a Luminor 1950 case). Because of that you have to look accurate to detect the case model. The simplest indicator is the crown protector. The Bettarini case has on the top side no markings, the Luminor 1950 case has the “R.E.G. T.M” markings on the top side.
8. How-to for the “THE Panerai Reference Database”
The start-screen “https://panerai.watchlounge.com” shows you the overview about all categories & collections.
Select at first the collection you want to search for. You can select “All References” or “All Movements” if you do not know to which collection the searched model belongs. Please be aware that this selection leads to the longest loading time.
The database will load & list all appropriate results (in case of selection “Luminor” all Luminor references, in case of “All References” all references from the database). Recommendation: The default setup shows you 50 entries per page. You can select on the bottom of the table “Show All entries per page”.
Now you can filter additionally the database result or sort by one of the offered columns.
To filter the result table additionally, you can search for specific naming like “PAM00127” or “127” or “Fiddy” at the “Search:” field. The database will reduce the current result to only the lines where your naming is fitting (e.g. a search about “Paneristi” will shows you only the references where “Paneristi” is part of the Model name).
To sort the result table, you have to click on the naming of the specific column. One click is in ascending order (you see it on the small triangle beside the column name, it shows “up”). Second click is sorted in descending order (you see it on the small triangle beside the column name, it shows “down”). Now you can go throw the interesting values at the table.
Example 1: Sort by “Movement” and scroll to the position where the movement “OP I” starts. From now you see all references with that movement
Example 2: Sort by “Case Size” and scroll to the position where the case size 44 mm starts. From now you see all references with that size.
9. Naming & Abbreviation
Here you can find often used naming and abbreviation from the Panerai fan-base.
|Bettarini Case||Means the first Luminor case with crown protector (but not the Luminor 1950 case, that was introduced later with the PAM00127)|
|Destro||Left-handed (crown is places vice versa, to where the watch on the other wrist)|
|Dirty dial||Describes the used luminous material color with vintage look (e.g. patina look at a PAM00356)|
|Left-handed||Crown is places vice versa, to wear the watch on the other wrist|
|Luminova||Luminous material used until in past Panerai. Naming on dial is "L SWISS L", replacement started from 2004/2005 to “Super-Luminova”|
|Marina Militare||Means in Italian (military) “Navy”. Panerai references uses sometimes that naming on special editions, nevertheless that naming is not owned or protected by Panerai.|
|Millesimation||See at Millesimation (chapter 2)|
|Paneristi||Panerai fan or fan-base|
|Pig||See at S.L.C.|
|PreA||See at Series (chapter 1)|
|Pre-Vendome||Means the time before Richmont bought Panerai (Vendome is the old company name from Richmont)|
|Reference||See at References (chapter 4)|
|Series||See at Series (chapter 1)|
|S.L.C.||Means “Siluro a lenta corsa”, in English language “Slow running torpedo”. That torpedoes were manned. A lot of pictures from Panerai show that manned torpedoes. Panerai uses the name for a specific dial-layout (see chapter 6) and references with that dial. That manned torpedo is applied as small logo on some dials (e.g. PAM00425). That small dial logo is also called “pig” in the Panerai fan-base (to different that form the S.L.C. dial type).|
|Super-Luminova||Luminous material used from approx. 2005 at Panerai. Naming on dial is "L SWISS MADE L".|
|Tritium||Luminous material used until 2006 at Panerai. Naming on dial is "T SWISS T". Radioactive material, replaced by “Super-Luminova”.|